Kids First Soccer Rotating Soccer Ball

Dribbling Skills Testing
Dribbling may be defined as "a controlled player movement with ball." Players highly skilled in ball control are most effective when they select to dribble wisely, i.e., they know when to dribble and when to use an alternative game strategy.

The purpose of this test is to provide a means of obtaining a baseline measure of fundamental soccer dribbling skills (control, speed, and change of direction). The "NM" shaped test is simple to set up, and is relatively easy for young children to follow. In addition, test practice trials provide a fun and rewarding learning experience.
Dribbling skills grid layout
Test Objective: Propell ball under control from start gate (cones 1 & 2) to finish gate (cones 8 & 9) in as little time as possible.

Space: Grid of 20 X 15 feet on even, low cut, dry grass (tall grass slows ball and contributes to a distorted perception of ball control).

Dimensions: Start (cones 1 & 2) and finish (cones 8 & 9) gates are 3 feet apart (each). Distance from center of start line to cone 3, and from cone 7 to center of finish line is 7 feet (each). Spread between zig zag cones (3-4, 4-5, 5-6, and 6-7) is 5 feet (each). Distance between cones 2 and 9 is 15 feet. Spread between cones 3 & 5, and Cones 5 & 7 is 9 feet (each). To place cone 4, measure 3 feet to the right of cone 2 (horizontally) and then measure 4 feet streight up (vertically). To place cone 6, measure 3 feet to the left (horizontally) of cone 9 and then measure 4 feet streight up (vertically). Following the above procedure should place cones 3&4, 4&5, 5&6, and 6&7 five feet apart (each) at the proper angles.

Equipment: one 10 feet measuring tape (an 8 foot rope with knots at 0, 3, 4, 5, and 7 feet will also do); nine 6 inch or larger clearly numbered (1-9) cones; stop watch (two stop watches recommended); chalk powder (enough to create a two inch wide trail from start to finish); clipboard, pen/pencil, and test forms (preferably with pre-recorded player information).

Procedures: When skill testing, I recommended the use of a battery of 3-5 tests. Devide team into groups no smaller than 2 and no lager than 5 and send each sub-group to a testing station. The head coach signals the start of a 2-3 minute test demonstration and warm-up/practice time. Following a 30 second warning to end of warm-up, the head coach and her/his assistants begin testing in all stations. Once activity is completed in all testing stations, the head coach signals for a rotation (e.g., clockwise). I suggest that each station tester walk her/his group to the next station and then go back to theirs. Players are then introduced to the new test procedures and start warm-up/practrice trials.

  • Players may use both feet to dribble and must go around (not over) cone. Every incident of cutting over cone carries a two seconds penalty.
  • In case a player misses a cone, he/she has to return and properly circle it.
  • To create a "game conditions" environment (add pressure for test content validity) allow only one testing cycle on any given practice day (kids should be allowed to take multiple untimed practice tests at any convenient time during practice).

Scoring: Use stop watch to measure time from the start signal to the time both player and ball (which ever passes through last) cross line inside the finish gate (between cones 8 & 9).

Safety: Watch for broken glass, water sprinklers, uneven surface, moist areas, and any other safety hazards. When practicing for the test, players should not dribble against traffic.

Note that uniformity and accuracy in skills testing is necessary for meaningful test-retest record keeping. The derivation of an accurate test result so that the coach and players may know who is the "best" should never be the focus of skills testing. The critical issue here is the ability to provide the player with reliable feedback about her/his past and most recent performances.

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Last Modified: Aug. 26, 2003